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Evidence of a spatial encoding deficit in rats with lesions of the mammillary bodies or mammillothalamic tract

Vann, Seralynne Denise and Aggleton, John Patrick 2003. Evidence of a spatial encoding deficit in rats with lesions of the mammillary bodies or mammillothalamic tract. Journal of Neuroscience 23 (8) , pp. 3506-3514.

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The present study sought to identify the role of the mammillary bodies and their projections to the anterior thalamic nuclei for spatial memory. Rats with either selective, neurotoxic mammillary body lesions or discrete mammillothalamic tract lesions were tested on various spatial working memory tasks. Tests using the T-maze, radial-arm maze, and water maze were manipulated to compare three possible theories of mammillary body function by increasing proactive interference, increasing retention interval, and taxing the rapid processing of novel spatial stimuli. On T-maze alternation and radial-arm maze tasks, both lesion groups were initially impaired but seemed to recover. Transfer tests revealed, however, a more permanent change in performance, suggesting a failure to use distal (allocentric) cues. Consistent with this, both groups were also impaired at matching-to-place in the water maze and showed little improvement with practice. Nevertheless, once the lesion groups had been trained on a task, they were not affected differentially either by an increase of proactive interference or by retention intervals of up to 30 min. Although both mammillary body and mammillothalamic tract lesions resulted in similar impairments, the mammillothalamic tract group was the more affected when acquiring new spatial information. Together, these results suggest that mammillary body damage causes an encoding deficit when learning new spatial tasks, resulting in a suboptimal mode of performance, which may reflect a loss of directional heading information.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: amnesia; anterior thalamic nuclei; Delay and Brion circuit; mammillary bodies; mammillothalamic tract; rat; spatial memory
Additional Information: “Copyright of all material published in The Journal of Neuroscience remains with the authors. The authors grant the Society for Neuroscience an exclusive license to publish their work for the first 6 months. After 6 months the work becomes available to the public to copy, distribute, or display under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” See:
Publisher: Society for Neuroscience
ISSN: 0270-6474
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:50

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